WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A beautiful soul, a personality that lit up a room, and a smile as pure as they come. Remington Hope Young, 20, was known for her go-get-it attitude and love for life.
“She is just the color yellow as a human, just the brightest, happiest person in every room,” said friend Kendyl Johnson.
“She was a good kid all the way around,” said Remington’s mom Amy Young. “If someone was being bullied, she would be the person that, you know, would stick up for them. It was just who she was.”
“Glowing, outgoing, the most beautiful heart,” said family friend Carmen Johnson.
Behind the smile and the positivity Remington, known by many as Remi, was fighting a dark battle, a battle that would eventually take her life.
Remington Young – The power-tumbler who could
Remi was born on Aug. 3, 2001. Remi’s mom, Amy, said her happy-go-lucky daughter instantly gravitated toward cheerleading.
“She said, ‘mom, I want to tumble,’ so we took her to gymnastics,” Amy said. “She started there when she was two, and she just took off. They called her a ‘power tumbler.'”
Amy said Remi mastered her back handspring before kindergarten. She started cheering competitively at Cheer Eclipse at the age of 5.
“It would consume her, and then at one point, she was on two teams, two competitive teams,” Amy said.
Collin Lee and Kendyl competed with Remi at Cheer Eclipse for nearly a decade.
“I remember at recess she would tumble, and she was so talented at such a young age. She knew how to flip, she knew how to tumble, she was amazing, and I was just so inspired by her,” said Collin.
“She was just always the most talented person. I am older than her, but I remember growing up, I just wanted to be like Remi when I grew up,” Kendyl said.
Kendyl, Collin, and Remi would eventually go on to cheer at Maize High School together.
“She is the person who made me the person I am today and the athlete. I would not be here without her. I would not have the skill without her,” Collin said.
Following Maize High, Remi took her charismatic and tumbling skills to the University of Kansas (KU).
“Her freshman year, she was the first freshman ever to make the national squad,” Amy said. “That was incredible. She had wanted to be a KU cheerleader since I can remember.”
Shining bright, yet fighting a dark battle
By sophomore year, Remi was named captain of the KU cheerleading squad, a title voted on by fellow teammates. From the outside looking in, it appeared Remi had it all. She was excelling in school and on the cheer team, but according to her mom and close friends, Remi was struggling.
“One minute she is in front of, you know, 60,000 people cheering for the KU football team and then the very next minute she is in bed and can’t get out for three days,” Amy said.
Amy said Remi started dealing with anxiety and depression leading into her freshman year of college. After her first year at KU, Remi tried to take her life. Soon after that, Amy said Remi and her doctors created a program for her. She was taking medication and meeting with a therapist regularly.
“I was fortunate to see what happens when you have therapy and meds and what happens when you don’t. There was a very big difference [between] her freshman and sophomore years when she was working her programs with her therapist and her psychiatrist and everything that she was supposed to be doing,” Amy explained.
Remi’s mental health took a turn in her junior year when she broke her ankle.
“She was hurt. Kind of saw the spiraling starting with her grades and having a tough time,” Amy said.
Remi soon lost her spot on the KU cheer squad because of struggling grades.
“I remember getting that phone call, and she was bawling, and it made me really nervous just because of the previous history,” said Taylor Cates, Remi’s junior-year roommate.
Taylor said Remi eventually picked herself up and was determined to make the KU cheer squad in the spring. However, Taylor said she could sense something was off with her best friend leading up to tryouts in May.
“From February to April, she was doing really good and then the closer it got to cheer tryouts, I would say the more anxious and sad she got. She would stay in her room a lot,” Taylor explained.
Taylor said Remi told her she stopped seeing her therapist because of the out-of-pocket cost, and her doctors lowered her medication.
“I tried, and I tried to get her to go. ‘I will help you. Whatever you need me to do, you need to let me know,'” Taylor said.
“I think for Remi, it wasn’t that she didn’t want help. It was that the help that was available to her was super expensive,” said long-time friend Ryley Elsea.
Amy was under the impression Remi was getting free help on campus. She would later learn that wasn’t the case. In May, Remi did not make the 2022 KU cheer team.
Amy remembers when she learned the news.
“She said, ‘I am done with KU. I can’t be here. All I know are cheerleaders. I don’t want to be here anymore, mom.’ I said, ‘OK,’ and so I put her on the next plane, and she made it here,” said Amy.
Following finals and Taylor’s graduation, Remi went to Texas to visit her mom.
“The last thing she said to me was, ‘give me a hug goodbye one last time before I leave,'” Taylor said.
A couple of days later, Remi, the bright light loved by so many, died by suicide.
“I don’t want another parent, another friend, anyone to ever have to feel this pain. The tragedy of walking in and finding the person you love most in this entire world gone,” Amy said.
The news of Remi’s death quickly spread, impacting her friends, family, and strangers.
“I felt guilty that I didn’t know the extent of the things going on or that I didn’t reach out to her after she didn’t make the cheer team. Just wish I would have put the shame and embarrassment aside and just gone to her,” Kendyl said.
“The emotion. I felt nothing. I had to leave the house. I spent the majority of that night outside by the pond. Sadness for her, her family, and her friends, regret. Wishing I could have done more,” Lee said.
Turning tragedy into a mental health mission: ‘Love Like Remi’
Following Remi’s death, Amy set out on a mission to create change. Using strength from her daughter, she and several others dedicated their time and talent to ‘Love Like Remi‘, a soon-to-be nonprofit supporting student-athletes and their mental health.
“We wanted to do something in her name. We are going toward helping student-athletes with mental health awareness and suicide prevention, whatever we can do to do that. We are hoping for scholarships in her name,” Amy said.
As part of the nonprofit, Amy is sharing Remi’s story with area schools and colleges.
“I think that’s a big message to parents, to students, to student-athletes, you know, to ask for help and go get it. It does work. I watched it, and then when she wasn’t getting the help, that’s when the spiral started happening,” Amy said.
Some of Remi’s friends have also created ‘Love Like Remi’ pay-it-forward cards. Whether it’s in the line at the grocery store or at the coffee shop, the goal is to impact a stranger’s life in a positive way. Often times the cards are accompanied by a gift card.
Carmen, a second mom to Remi, has shared the cards with people close and far. One of her most memorable encounters was with a man at the airport in our nation’s capital.
“There is a total stranger in Washington D.C. that knows Remington now and knows her story and can hopefully shine her light in that part of the country,” said Carmen.
Mental Health Resources
Whether it’s for a family member, friend, co-worker, or for yourself, there is help out there for anyone needing help with mental health.
Here are some resources:
- COMCARE 24-hour Community Crisis Line: 316-660-7500
- Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas: 316-685-1821
- United Way of the Plains: 211
- Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-help (4357)
- Psychology Today: Find therapists in your area, see who takes your insurance, and learn more information about mental health
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Chat online or call 988